Ladies & Gentlemen, Children of All Ages! Forget the tightrope walkers and the fire-eaters, You've never seen this before!
About three months ago we finally switched from a baby stroller to a toddler stroller, the red McClaren hand-me-down from my sister that got recalled for amputating fingers (we got the safety covers, so no experimenting there). Upside: smaller, lighter to push, feasible for me to carry up and down subway stairs by myself with Wally in it. Downside: No cup holder (for me, W can hold his own damn cup), can't pile groceries in basket underneath (too small), and Wally can grab everything in arm's reach. That radius extends to the funny/charming: a Three Musketeers bar which I find after we're out on the sidewalk and return to the counter, always hoping someone else will find it funny too (no one does), to the infuriating: shiny police cars and fire trucks otherwise known as instant temper tantrums, to the downright hazardous --glass tomato sauce jars and the like.
In this toddler stroller, Wally currently has two modes of transport. The first is to bend all the way over and grab the wheels with his hands while chanting, "gonna get hurt, gonna get hurt". (I think I should do a whole list of translations because "gonna get hurt" in toddler world, or at least sensation-seeker toddler world, is basically "Step right up".) This morning Wally got yelled at by a scary drunk guy to "Sit up sit up sit up" when he was bent over in that fashion. I felt like maybe I should be say something back, but I also figured the guy might just be trying to help. After all, it was clearly asking for an accident. And I can't fault Wally too much. I was 12 when I figured out the sound of my jelly shoe (with my foot in it) made a pleasing sound when I stuck it into the front wheel of my 10-speed going fast around a curve on Drummer Road. I did it again and again, until my foot finally caught and I went spinning head first over and splat on the sidewalk, bike on top of me, leg twisted into the spokes of the wheel. And I know, I know, I can't fault Wally at all. He's 2. I'm the mom who "can't control her kid" which is another reason I appreciated the scary stranger taking notice. I thought Wally might listen better to him than to me. Outcome: no change.
The second mode is standing up (still strapped in) walking with the stroller attached to him. Today it was the stroller and two giant canvas bags of groceries, heavy stuff like a gallon of milk and OJ and beer. What happens is I'll sometimes "park" Wally like five feet from a counter in a small store (hardware store today) so there's lots of arm's-reach clearance. I stand over by the counter, that is, five feet from Wally. But just as the guy is handing me the copies of the keys I asked for, a miniature person grabs my legs and says, "Hi Moma." Sometimes he scoots over, you know sort of pumping your legs so you inch forward bit by bit. But usually he simply walks. He does it on the sidewalk too. And he really makes tracks, I'd say he sometimes gets up to a good 4 mile/hour pace that way. Similarly the weighted vest we bought which was supposed to slow him down and "ground" him did the opposite. His energy spikes every time he puts it on. The added challenge is just a thrill, which is a good way to live. Could have saved $107 figuring that out though by tying soup cans onto a vest he already had.
When Wally walks that way, pulling the stroller behind him, people take notice. They laugh and comment, even in New York, even in the city that didn't look twice at my dad wearing womens' yellow, flower pajama bottoms to a bar on 23rd street, to play POOL, he reminded me, after I wrote that post, not simply to duck his head and slip into a booth and order a Bass Ale, wallflower style. No, to strut around in the wallpaper pajamas calling shots and shooting 8-ball with my brother-in-law. Still no second glance. But Wally walking himself around in his toddler stroller is a real sideshow. Might as well step right up.